Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pakistan launches education plan for children with focus on girls

ISLAMABAD, November 11, 2012

As the world heeded to U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown's call to observe November 10 as 'Global Action Day for Malala Yousafzai', Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari warned that the attack on Ms. Yousafzai was an attack on the future of the region as a whole, as the terrorists would not stop at Pakistan.

He did not mince words in a message released late on Friday night on the eve of Malala Day. "The terrorists shot Malala in the head and neck. Her attackers aren't just trying to kill the daughter of Pakistan. They are trying to kill Pakistan. They didn't stop at Afghanistan. They won't stop at Pakistan. Attack on her is an attack on every child in our region. It is an attack on the future of our region. We cannot sit idly as our children are attacked. We must act. Urgently."

To show Pakistan's commitment to Ms. Yousafzai's dream of educating the 32 million out-of-school girls across the world, the federal government launched the Waseela-e-Taleem programme to educate three million children, especially girls, from the poorest of poor families. Mr. Zardari said the programme seeks to reinforce the idea that Ms. Yousafzai represents.

"The more the militants strike the more we will rebound with determination, defiance and courage. Let there be no doubt or mistake about it."

According to the President, the observance of Malala Day by the international community was a demonstration of the realisation that the attackers of Ms. Yousafzai would not stop at Pakistan and would threaten the whole world. "Malala has transcended from an individual to an idea," he added

Meanwhile, an online petition started in Canada to mobilise support across the world to nominate Ms. Yousafzai for the Nobel Peace Prize gathered momentum over the weekend and now has over a lakh signatories, including Ministers from different countries. The signatories include Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Minister of State Shashi Tharoor.

Even as Ms. Yousafzai continued to recover in the Birmingham hospital and meetings were organised across the country to observe 'Malala Day' and laud her courage, her own school-mates were forced to mark the day in a low-key manner for fear of terrorists targeting their institution. According to local media reports from Mingora, the school marked the day with a reference during assembly but could not do anything to mobilise opinion outside the premises owing to security considerations.

Ms. Yousafzai was shot at and grievously injured by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on October 9 while on her way back from school in Mingora.
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